I am flying to australia this january and all excited. I have decided that i would be visiting the gold coast,sydney,cairns and melbourne. However, one more destination is on my mind and i need some help from you guys. I have decided to go to either perth or Alice Springs( to see Ayers rock primarily). What is your take on this? Both seem so wonderful places that i am seriously confused to choose between one of them. Any help would be deeply appreciated. I am primarily looking for activities in my trip.
I've unfortunately not managed to visit either Perth or Alice Springs, so I can't give much meaningful advice. However, if Uluru is your primary reason for going in that direction, I'd skip Alice Springs completely and just fly straight to Ayers Rock, getting you out of the day long drive in the overwhelming heat. If you fly from Melbourne with Qantas it shouldn't cost you more than $200-$250.
When choosing, keep in mind that January is the hottest month of the year, and that you will seriously notice this in Ayers Rock. (I went in April, and it was still far too hot to do much of anything.)
Flying into Uluru is an option; however, having done this a few times I would recommend the following: fly into Alice; pre-book a 3-day adventure tour with Adventure tours or Sahara. The reason for this is that its all inclusive and it gets you around in a place where getting around isn't easy, but its essential. The buses are all small and air-connditioned. A 3-dayer will take you Alice to Uluru /overnight camp; early morning climb (very early to beat the heat and flies) or walk-around ( its your choice) the Rock, travel over to the Olgas (more rocks), then on to Kings Canton for the evening, then back to Alice Springs. I like Alice Springs. I think its worth a day. Its one place where I highly recommend guided tours.
It is very hot, but keep in mind the desert nights are very cold.
As for Perth / WA: Nothing uniquely Australian about Perth; WA as a travelling destination is great though. I'd go for the Icon - Uluru.
Definitely go to Alice Springs!
You're right, they are both wonderful places, but if you're already going to Sydney, The Gold Coast and Cairns, then Perth is quite similar. (ie. City & Beaches). Alice Springs - along with Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon, is a completely different (and amazing) experience!
I'd recommend visiting a Backpacker Travel Centre when you get to Australia (Backpackers World Travel or Travellers Contact Point are good) for some advice.
I live in Perth, and have done for 25 years.
It is beautiful, has some of the best beaches in the world and the weather is the BEST.
That said and done, if you have been to Cairns, the Gold Coast and Sydley, do Uluru without a doubt.
A lovely beach is still just a beach, and great Oz beaches are 2 a penny.
Uluru should be slightly? warm in January/February.
I still haven't been to Uluru myself yet!!!
P.S. Slip, Slop, Slap.